How do you distinguish humans from the rest of nature? Or do you not? This has been a concept that I’ve struggled with for a while now. Especially when confronted by non-environmentalists who counter with the argument of “Are we not a product of nature? How are our manipulations of nature any different from those of a beaver?” or worse, when they defend our destructive actions as simply a “survival of the fittest” when thousands of other species die as a consequence. Below is the best response I could come up with but I am open to suggestions, comments, and critique!
Humans are natural, yet also something dynamically different from nature because of the uniquely different human culture of Homo sapiens. It is a complicated issue and the best way to explain it, is through the use of colors. Pink is a type of red color, but we do not simplify it as red. Although pink cannot exist without red, because that is where it gets its hue, it is dynamically different from red because of its white component. The addition of white distinguishes pink from red so drastically that when coming across a pink and red sweater we do not describe it as red. Rather, the item is considered to be composed of two different colors. This example is comparable to the relationship between humans and nature. Utilizing this metaphor, nature represents the red, human culture is the white, and thus humans are pink. Although humanity is natural, it is different from nature because it has the additional component of culture which is not inherent in nature. So, just as with the red and pink sweater, when describing nature, humans will not be included in this description since they are not reducible to such designation.
For the full-length argument visit “Earth Actualization.”